Daoism vs Confucianism

Which is your dog? 

Daoism vs Confucianism is an ongoing philosophical debate. For centuries these two schools of thought have sparred with one another. 

Naturally, I was not as interested in the human arguments as I was in which side my dogs were on. 

Daoism vs Confucianism: focus

Daoism focuses on nature. It honors the Dao, the Way, the un-explainable something that all things arise from, the force if you are a Jedi.

Confucianism focuses on humanity. It cares about human goals, aspirations, correct ways of being human. It is about rules and order.

Daoism vs Confucianism: virtues

The Daoist virtues are acceptance, flow, and balance.

Confucianists value order, propriety, and human dignity.

Are all dogs Daoists?

Initially I wanted to argue that all dogs are Daoists, since Confucianism is human centered. It’s about human goals and a human sense of  orderliness.  

The bell went off with the word orderliness.

I have lived with herding dogs.

Their drive for order is insatiable. They worked hard to enable my goals, if I clearly communicated those goals.

Unlike like some dogs I know (looking at you Sandy) those dogs were interested in helping me get through my tasks. They came to get me when my morning toast popped up. They nudged me when the dryer signaled a load was done, and alerted me to traffic when crossing the street. 

When walking, if we met another group of people, the herders worked furiously to keep our family group together.

This is super fun when on they were on leash and their tight circling creates a tangle of tripping hazards.

But none of our group ever got mixed into the crowd.

Dog Breeds that are Confucians

Confucianist dogs fulfill a role, they like order, and strive to get things done for their humans in the proper human order. They like being a good example to other less ambitious dogs. (Ahem, Sandy.)

Here is an incomplete list:

herding dogs

  • Border Collies
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Shetland sheepdog
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Collies
  • Great Pyrenees

Working dogs

  • German Shepherds
  • Dobermans
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Bloodhounds
  • Great Danes
  • Retrievers
  • Pointers

While not a specific breed, service dogs are Confucianists too. We humans would be so much less without our four legged Confucianist companions!

Dog Breeds that are Daoist

Daoist dogs go with the flow. They accept the moment as it is. They don’t worry about human goals and their favorite order is chaos.

When someone says their dog never judges them, their dog is a Daoist. A herding dog (Confucianist) will judge you. Hard.

When I do something Sandy does not like, she doesn’t judge. She emotes. She is in the flow of the moment and in that moment she is sad. She is disappointed in me and she doesn’t hide it. But she doesn’t stay that way long. Because the Dao flows, a new snack will arrive and balance will be restored.

This is Sandy on the day I sent the pizza delivery person away because I had not ordered a pizza. Food came right to our door, and I turned it away! She was very disappointed.

Daoist breeds are generally happy dogs (unless you send the pizza away) and make wonderful companions. Just plan on handling your own goals.

Here is an incomplete list:

  • Beagles
  • Greyhounds
  • Corgis
  • Pugs
  • French Bulldog
  • Maltese
  • Schnauzer
  • Shih Tzu
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Clumber Spaniels

If you want to explore dog breeds for yourself, check out this from the AKC.  


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